Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

A Secret Spring??

Monday March 10, 2014
Rainbow Springs State Park
Dunnellon, Florida



Despite my carelessness last time,  I head out again for a sunset paddle.


I leave just after dinner at about 6:00 to kayak the river at sunset.   Of course with sunset at 7:30 these days, 6:00 may seem a bit early but I want to kayak up to the spring and float down before dark.   My goal is to see the otters I’d seen last time I was here and that someone had said were seen in the early evening a day or so ago.


There’s almost no traffic on the river.  GREAT!   I paddle a short distance up stream keeping my eyes pealed in front of me and on all sides.  



And then I see it.  

An opening on the side of the river.   Where does it go?  Could I paddle up it?  What would I find?   My curiosity gets the best of me and I make a right hand turn.



It’s nice size stream which must be fed from a spring as the water is coming down fairly strongly.







Oh no, am I going to get stopped already?


Not very far in there is a tree over the water at enough of an angle that my height becomes an advantage, I can get under it on one side so I don’t have to portage.  But in doing so, I also can’t take a picture of it or I’ll float right back out.

The water is crystal clear and shallow.  The color is gorgeous.












This is so exciting. 


I’m in my own little world and it is just breathtakingly beautiful.  I wonder how far I can go?  What will I find?






I’m here all alone in this magnificent place.  I am grinning ear to ear.   There is not another sound but the birds.







Oh Well….




And then, another tree completely across the stream and only inches from the water.  Flat across.  I check out the portage possibilities.  I can see the path beckoning  me on beyond the tree.  I think I could do it but given the time, I reluctantly decide to turn back and come again on another day earlier in the day.





It’s just as lovely going the other way if not quite as exciting.   I can see by the light on the trees that the sun is dropping fast.







I again approach the first tree in the stream and can’t stop to take a picture this time either because the current is pushing me forward and I have to be using my paddle to curve around the end of the log and under the raised end.  Oh well, I’ll remember it.  You try to imagine it if you can.






A little bit further and I’m back at the opening to the river. 


I leave the secret passage way behind.





I turn right and head up.  I have less than 45 minutes now.  I know I won’t be able to make it up to the head spring but that’s OK,  My little adventure was worth it.












The sun moves lower and lower in the sky.

The sun dropping low in the sky lights up the Spanish moss as if from within.  I really can’t see to paddle, the sun is in my eyes.  But unlike being on a highway, there isn’t much worry here. 





Do you see the little cormorant on the pole in the water in front of this sunlit tree?




I paddle within a foot or so of him and he just stays right there.   The sunlight is bathing him too.





I take it as a signal to turn around when I see this osprey in the very top of a tall tree along the bank.  No otters so far.  I have about 15 minutes to float back down.  Perhaps I’ll see them when I am not paddling and thus making no movement or sound at all.





When I turn around, I see the moon just behind the osprey. It’s not full but it is proving light now that the sun has gone down and the dusk is coming on.





Ol’ blue eyes is always on the river somewhere.





Another highlight of this trip takes me by surprise.  


Wood ducks are simply gorgeous. They are among my very favorites.   Look at that paint job.  Who could dream it up?  They generally very skittish and nervous.   I don’t think he has any idea how wonderfully he is posing for me. 

I suppose because I am floating down with the current and not paddling he doesn’t notice me until the very last minute when he slides  off the log and swims over to the grasses.












I am almost back at the dock when I come upon these boys having a great time doing back flips off of this tree.  Other than myself and the birds, it seems they are the only ones still out.   I wonder how far they have to go in their boats.  There is less than 15 minutes of light left.








I didn’t see what I came for on this paddle but time on the water is always a blessing.  It never fails that I have experiences that make me smile and feel wonderful.


  1. What a great paddle you had! ;->

    Virtual hugs,


  2. Exploring is great fun! On land or on water. But on water, I think you see more.

  3. Brilliant! just loved the pictures and your narration ... I was right there along with you ...

  4. After our day paddling up a well known waterway, Snake Creek, I can only imagine how it felt to find your very own secret little channel. Ahh...just wonderful. So sorry you lost your favorite paddle. A well made light paddle is a treasure, I do hope you get another one sooner rather than later.

  5. Oh, a secret spring is just as nice as a secret garden. How fun! I loved reading about it.

  6. That was great fun!! What an absolute wonderful adventure! I love it when surprises in nature happen....always makes me feel special for having been there at the right moment in time!

  7. Those moments with nature are priceless.

  8. Great suspense. I kept reading along with your paddling wondering what you would find. Please take us back there, pretty please.

  9. Great paddle! That wood duck doesn't look real. The lines are so distinct that it looks like painting. You captured it beautifully.

  10. Just beautiful, Sherry. I agree with John and Pam, the duck really does look like painting. I'm telling you, it seems like each time you post your pictures get better and better, and you are a superb story teller.

  11. Very very nice...does David know what he missed out on???

  12. I love the way the water looks all shimmery in the pictures.

  13. Three rules to follow to not lose any paddle gear. One, never put anything anywhere except in your boat or in your car, never on the ground or on your car. Rule two, follow rule one to the tee.. Rule three follow rule one and two, never deviate from these rules.
    I once lost a paddle too because I disobeyed all three of these rules.

  14. Sunset must be YOUR special paddling time. Manatees the first time and a secret trail the second time!! Well written and great photos!! Do hope you find the otters:o))

  15. Love to paddle off the main waterways. Truly delightful.

  16. Another great paddle, always love to explore the less traveled ways. Very nice of the beautiful duck to pose for you.

  17. Even better pictures of the wood duck- love it!

  18. What a nice little surprise you found. I'll bet David wishes he had gone with you.

    I know how you feel about Crystal River, but I really think you would love Three Sisters Springs. Its similar to what you described here. You go into a narrow little channel which opens up to a big surprise with beautiful "rooms" of clear swimming pool blue waters. If you go after manatee season, you might be the only one in the rooms.

    Another place I thought of from this post was Juniper Springs. I don't know if you've paddled it yet, but you should. I think you'd love it.

  19. What a wonderful paddle! To find a secret channel to explore must have been so nice for you. The wood duck's colors are fantastic, they are so stately looking. Looking forward to your next post.

  20. Your own secret "Jungle Cruise". Walt Disney would be jealous... :c)

  21. I love secret pathways and passageways. I'm glad you shared that. The pictures helped me feel I was there with you. The wood duck is gorgeous-definitely an expert paint job! Great paddle! I can imagine your grins...lucky you to be able to enjoy nature so intimately everyday!!

  22. As jealous as I am that I missed out on this paddle, I couldn't be happier about your joy in discovery of the charms that were there for you. Another person, another boat, different timing and, well it just wouldn't have been the same. The wood duck is a wonder to behold and I always look forward to that next glimpse. Stunning pictures.


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